I really want this blog to be informative, but entertaining. However, I've had issues with looking at the funny side of things lately. I seem to be stuck in this very non-humorous rut and am taking everything WAY too seriously. My feathers get ruffled easily and my husband asks me every day if I think I'm pregnant... which would be a serious achievement considering all the natural steps we've been taking to prevent pregnancy at this particular moment. So, this is what is eating me alive. Big Business. Now, I know that we live in a land full of opportunity and capitalism, which I think it perfectly fine. But what I find horrendous is that in this Land of the Free, we are also able to harm others in order to make money. I have lots of cases in point:
Makes Mom Happy told us all about the evils of Medela and how they egregiously violate the WHO's breastfeeding code. They happily pay the fines because they know they can make more money by making an open breastpump that cannot be used for more than one mother.
MamaNotes just wrote about 10 recalls for baby items. I found the whole list and was astounded that there weren't just 10, there were hundreds of recalled baby products (and I was too furious to even look at the toy list.) The purpose of the recalls was anything from "excessive lead" to fall hazards, laceration hazards, strangling and choking hazards, and other horrendous outcomes.
And most recently I found out that something as innocuous and lovely as new carpet is full of toxic VOCs which can harm your body. They can emit toxic off-gasses for an average of ten years!
Then you have the whole H1N1 vaccination debate (or vaccinations, in general). Did you read where you could take your child to have the H1N1 vaccine tested on them and receive a $40 gift card in return? Are you kidding me?? Dr Momma at Peaceful Parenting listed the article on her website. So, you have to imagine that in order to receive this gift card, you have to waive all rights to a lawsuit in the event that the thermerisol or other ingredients in this vaccine harm or kill your kid. But it's $40, right?? By the way, did you know that there are still pending cases in court from the horrible side effects (paralysis and death among other things) from the H1N1 vaccine from the 1970s? Did you know that Novartis has already got a stockpile of funds designated for lawsuits stemming from anticipated deaths and other catastrophic reactions to their H1N1 vaccine? And did you know that the manufacturers of the H1N1 vaccine aren't even going to take it??!?! Why should we?
I watched a funny video posted by one of my former students, a chiropractic intern. It was amusing, but thoughtful as well. Why are all food products required to list their ingredients, but nothing else is? Would you buy that toy if it listed one of its ingredients as lead? Would you buy that flooring if you knew it had VOCs in it? No! And perhaps that is why they don't list them.
Warning- I am stepping onto my soapbox.
How have we gotten to a place in this country where money is more valuable than life? Research and development costs are cut in order to advertise items on TV, and then the consumers become the buyers and the researchers. We have to call the manufacturers to tell them that their "safe" products (from cribs, swings, high chairs, co sleepers, carseats) are not safe, and in fact have injured, maimed, or killed our kids. We suffer the ill effects of toxins in our home's paint and carpet. Quality control is being sacrificed by sending these products to a faraway land for production and then the manufacturers don't oversee it properly. And then WE purchase those items because they are cheaper. Well, of course they are cheaper! Those folks are being paid $2 per day and have no health insurance and no 401K, so of course the products are less expensive. Not only are we sacrificing our families, we are sacrificing the lives of others whom we have never even met! We are in a terrible state when there is an inverse relationship between income and morals. It sort of makes me insane. I'm trying to do my part by carrying products that are environmentally and socially responsible in my little store. And by boycotting large stores who only carry cheap items made in countries on the other side of the world. If I can purchase an item that is $50 more expensive, but support fair trade and ethically treats its employees, I will gladly eat beans and rice for a week. It's about priorities. As a nation, we need to get ours straight.
As I get more and more comfortable being a mother of two under two, I have found myself becoming much less critical of other mothers around me. No more than a few months ago I would have shot an untoward glance at a harried mother desperately trying to get her child to do something other than what that child wanted to do, feeling sorry for her but secretly gloating that I wasn't there and never would be. I got those looks today.
A friend and I decided that a consignment sale was the place to be this afternoon. It was an overcast day, a little muggy, but the mud piles created by the last few rounds of rain made playing outside impossible. So a consignment sale it was. I love a good sale... 250 MegaBloks for 14 bucks, a piggy bank with heirloom glass tins for the first tooth and lock of hair for 10, a princess backpack for 4 dollars... what more could you want?! Petunia is strapped securely to my body with 5 feet of breathable organic cotton, wrapped expertly by yours truly and Piggy is sitting like a big girl in the stroller. We enter. All is well with the world. Until Piggy spots the thousands of stuffed animals and babies on the wall. "Baby! Baby! Baaaaay- beeeeeee! BAAAAAAAY- BEEEEEE!" I throw one to her- a lamb- to get her quiet. She says, "Oh weeee!" and snuggles it closely, while the thoughts of the unknown child's germs covering that baby disturb the peace it brought to the moment. I thought, "Okay, she'll love on her baby and if worst comes to worst, we'll have to buy it." A few minutes later, that little lamb is tossed to the floor and Piggy now wants out of the stroller. Stupidly, I had forgotten to strap her in, and she starts climbing up and out of the contraption, uninhibited by buckles or snaps. I gently tell her to sit down and she shrieks at the top of her lungs. I glance over apologetically to my friend who is chatting on the phone, seeing if this kid is as loud as I perceive her to be. She is.
We meander over to the official toy section that is laden with blocks and rings and VTech and other such goodies. Piggy is done. She has to get down to explore all of these new items. She finds a Winnie the Pooh play set and busily gets to work pushing the buttons and creating a general racket. Then she spots all the ride-on toys. A police car, a fire engine, a couple of scooters, a bicycle with training wheels, a bus, Thomas the Train, a motorcycle- it's a toddler's dream. She hops on and tries out each and every one of them, completely disregarding the masking tape covering the seats in the desperate attempt to keep children like mine OFF.
I place my massive box of MegaBloks in the stroller because it is currently empty and should be used for something. I stuff the piggy bank and backpack underneath and begin walking towards the front to check out. Thinking that my child would follow, I don't turn around. My friend, obviously more aware than I am, stops to watch as my daughter tries to get on the big girl bicycle. I leave my stroller, purse and all, and go to remove my child from the big girl bicycle. She goes limp in my arms and refuses to cooperate, screaming as loud as I thought she was able. We finally make it to the front and the lady asks if "this was all"? I say yes and ask if they take credit cards, really needing to speed up this process. Piggy then kicks and almost throws herself out of my arms, so I try to get her back into the stroller. Seeing that my attempts were futile, the lady at the register comes around and secures Piggy's feet in her hands and shoves them under the tray of the stroller. Piggy immediately becomes a limp noodle and slithers underneath and falls to the floor, shrieking and crying the entire way down. I look up and around and for a moment realize that every single person in that store was staring at us. So, I do the only thing I know how. I wave. At all of them. And I smile, while waving and announce, "Yes, we're here!! But we're leaving!" My friend and I move toward the door which is being held open by one of the workers. We arrive at the solace of the car. Whew. Deciding that we had not had enough of this child's shenanigans, we head over to the local Chick-fil-A with the indoor play area. As we pull in, I am thinking about how to get the girls out of the car simultaneously. Since I wasn't going to bring in the stroller, I walked around and got Piggy out, and placed her in the front seat. She loves "driving" and then I quickly put Petunia back into the wrap. I opened back up the front door and said, "Come on, Piggy, let's go!" She immediately throws herself backwards into the "tantrum position," quickly and efficiently demolishing my styrofoam cup of Dr. Pepper and covering her head in it. I yank her up and out of the car to prevent further soaking of the sticky, syrupy liquid and lead her to my friend who holds her hand and says, "Piggy, what is in your hair?" "Dr. Pepper, of course!" is my reply.
We enter the Chick-Fil-A and another tantrum ensues which captures the attention of the staff and the four groups of diners. "Hello, everyone. We're here!" are the first words out of my mouth as I usher Piggy to the back left into the play room. She immediately goes to pick up a pair of shoes that have been carelessly thrown off by one of the children who is now eating her lunch in the dining area. "No no. Those aren't yours. Put them down, please." Thinking that my Dr. Pepper-soaked child has already caused all the ruckus she can, I begin to relax. My friend has ordered a milkshake and is enjoying it on the other side of the glass. A dad and a few kids enter the play area just as Piggy is squatting and grunting, making sure that everyone is around her, enjoying the stench of her newly poopy diaper. Oh yes. I was THAT mom today.
There are lots of ways to know that you are officially a naturalized citizen of Toddler Land:
You can quickly and easily fall asleep in the toddler bed and wake up to find that the toddler has sneaked out and is now in your bed...
The toddler just sitting on the big girl potty is enough to elicit shrieks of excitement. And doing the actual deed is cause for some serious (and literal) song and dance... You don't care that the toddler is eating fuzz... again. After all, it always comes out...
The poopy diapers are awfully similar to, well, you know... the real thing (with fuzz).
While the toddler is screaming "It sucks! It sucks!" you understand that something is stuck and she needs your help getting it freed, which happens much more frequently than you ever realized.
Out in public the toddler is yelling how "it sucks" (old ladies and disapproving mothers shaking their heads in disdain) and you can't help but agree as you help to dislodge the "babydog" from some inner workings of the stroller.
Forgetting when your last shower was is normal and shaving one leg dulls a razor completely. Who cares, anyway?
And finally, your college degree means nothing. Case in point- after getting dressed and heading to the local Publix, you fish what you think is a dryer sheet out of your pants leg while walking into the store, intending to stick it in your pocket. Unfortunately, a dryer sheet it is not. Instead, it is yesterday's panties. You make a quick retreat to the car.
Welcome to Toddler Land. Check your brain at the door.
I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the best doulas around, Julie Byers, just a few weeks before she gave birth to her second baby. Her birth story is amazing and you can read it here and here. She took the time to answer all my questions and I found out a lot of stuff I didn't know! I hope you find this informative!!
Me: What is a doula?
Julie: The literal translation of the word is "female slave" in Greek. And, frankly, I find that description to fit what most doulas do. We do whatever the birthing woman needs us to do--and that looks very different to each family. The professional term has evolved to mean a woman who assists during childbirth. She provides emotional and physical support to laboring families. She also helps the couple to know what to expect from their care providers and birth environment, reminds them of questions to ask, and often communicates birth wishes to the medical team. At a time when birth has become more procedure oriented and medicalized, the doula can assist a couple in creating a unique and celebratory experience. We guard their space. Some couples want more from their birth than to simply show up and be delivered of a baby. They want to be active and informed participants.
Me: Why do I need a doula?
Julie: In my opinion, for a first time couple planning a hospital birth, a doula is an absolute essential part of the plan. Regardless of your birth choices (natural, medicated, induced, elective c-section), a doula is the only part of your birth team who is only answering to you. She isn't answering to the hospital administration or a malpractice insurance policy. She knows the routines, the pitfalls, and the perks. Sometimes, just the fact that a couple hires a doula sends a message to the medical team that they have given thought to their birth and that they take informed consent seriously. For out-of-hospital births and experienced couples, a doula is still a powerful addition to the team.
Me: What certifications, experience, expertise should I look for when interviewing a doula?
Julie: I think the most important thing to look for in a doula is how she meshes with your personality and needs. Her ability to tune into your needs will be her best skill and sometimes people just don't mesh. So, don't choose a doula with more experience or better certification that you didn't feel comfortable with. There are several certifying organizations (DONA, CAPPA, Hypnobabies, Birthing From Within, etc). Some doulas choose to certify and some don't. Some receive their training from apprenticing with other doulas/midwives and some attend workshops or complete distance learning courses. I love when couples ask me for references from OBs/midwives or couples I've worked with.
Me: How much can I expect to pay a doula?
Julie: The range I've noticed in our area is between $500-800. You can often find a student doula for less or for free. Some doulas will barter. And usually, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) will cover doula services. I tell couples: remember what you paid for your wedding! This event is important! Besides, a doula is much less than an epidural or c-section.
Me: Are there rules about paying more if a labor goes longer, or less if it is shorter? Are tips standard?
Julie: I have heard of doulas charging more if a labor goes longer but that is not typical. We usually charge a flat fee regardless of length of labor. Each doula will have a contract with specific provisions for things like precipitous births or planned cesareans. Some couples tip and some don't--I never expect it.
Me: How many times should I meet with my doula?
Julie: It varies. Most offer a free birth consultation or interview. Then, if hired, meet with the couple two times before the birth. The doula is available by phone or email from the time they are hired until the couple is settled postpartum.
Me: What red flags should I look for when interviewing a doula?
Julie: Agendas. Some doulas only want to support unmedicated births or seem to have a plan of their own about how birth should go. You want a doula who takes time to understand your needs and wishes, the culture of your family, and what is most important to you.
Me: Do I need to have my doula approved by my doctors/hospital?
Julie: No, you can bring whomever you choose to your birth. However, it is a good idea to mention to your OB/midwife that you have hired a doula. Or invite your doula to a prenatal appointment even.
Me: Should my doula attend my childbirth education classes with me?
Julie: If it is ok with your instructor and your doula is not familiar with your particular childbirth education choice, this might be beneficial. If you are a single mother, having your doula attend your class with you would be excellent!
Me: I would like to give a gift to my doula. What are some appropriate gift ideas?
Julie: Something simple would be a picture of the doula with your new baby. I love getting those! Other ideas might be birth jewelry or art. www.attachmentscatalog.com has a section of lovely doula gifts.
Me: Where should I go to find qualified doulas in my area?
Julie: Ask. I get all of my clients through word of mouth. Post to a message board like Upstate Moms, ask midwives or childbirth educators, talk to a playgroup. Or google.
Me: I'm afraid that the doula I like is too expensive. Are there grants available? Could we barter? Are there options?
Julie: Most doulas will work with you on this one. Payment plans are almost always an option. I have had couples pay me months after a birth when they received their tax refund! And I've bartered. I mentioned using a flex spending account. And check with your insurance company--you never know!
Me: How many births have you attended?
Julie: I hate this question because I haven't taken the time to add them up! I honestly don't know. I didn't mean to become a doula so many of my early births went undocumented--one day I'll gather together all the records. I will say that I attend 2-3 births per month now and I average 12 hours of continuous labor support (not including prenatal and postpartum care) with each couple.
*A big thanks to Julie for answering each question so thoughtfully and completely... She's the best!! :)
I think that if I knew how difficult raising a two year old was, I might have decided that I wasn't designed to be a parent. Piggy is quite a determined little girl and sometimes I have to show her the boundaries so that she knows she isn't running this show. We had a nice tantrum out at the birth center where I have my store today, and my patience and parenting was tested to the extreme, but she finally relented and picked up her toys- the cause of the ensuing battle. It was a silly test, really. I had picked up after her like 784 times already that day and she normally listens and obeys, if not happily at least quickly. BUT not yesterday. Yesterday when I handed her the chicken to put back in the basket she threw it down and flung herself on the floor kicking and screaming for "AMY!!!!" (She is one of the midwives at the birth center, who was in the other room.) Now, you have to know this kid to understand how funny her calling for Amy was. Piggy won't go to anyone except me, her dad, and my mom. She just allowed my dad to hold her for the first time this week (first time, that is, since she's been able to choose who is allowed and who isn't). Sunday School is a horrendous time each week because there are two men in the class with their wives, but I digress. So, we had a showdown yesterday at the birth center. I stood my ground and after about 20 minutes, she finally picked up the toys. But as horrible as that tantrum was, it was sort of all worth it because on our way home she started singing. "Yes, Jesus bubble juice! Yes, Jesus bubble juice. Yes, Jesus bubble juice. Da Biba me so..." At first I was confused about what she was singing and then I realized she was singing Jesus Loves Me. I turned around and was amazed at how her demeanor had changed. She wasn't a stinky, tantrum-y, two year old but instead had transformed to the sweet angel that I wake up to each morning... "Honey, it's 'loves you,' not 'bubble juice', and I 'bubble juice' too."
I guess that one of the unspoken aspects of cloth diapering is that as much as we all love them, there are flaws with every system. Don't believe me? Go to the cloth diaper review sites and check out what other moms have to say. There just isn't a perfect diaper out there- no matter who tells you otherwise... However, just like so many things in life, you have to weigh the pros and cons. For me, the positives far outweighed the negatives. We have been successfully cloth diapering for 2 years in October and I wouldn't go back to disposables for anything. I enjoy the little nuisances of cloth diapering and am secretly amused when folks look at me like I have 3 heads when I tell them that I am using cloth for not one, but two babies simultaneously. For me, it is just worth it. It's worth not having diaper rash. It's worth not exposing my kids to unnecessary chemicals like dioxin (which is banned in most countries). It's worth it to me to save thousands of dollars to put towards other important things like education, fresh natural foods, and quality toys made out of sustainable, non toxic materials in places other than China.
But one of my least favorite activities regarding cloth diapering is stripping them. I have stripped my diapers four times now, on average every 6 months. And there are various ways to tell if you need to strip your diapers. First, if you have used any sort of diaper cream on your baby's bottom and the diaper is no longer absorbent you should strip it. If you can smell immediately that your baby has peed in her diaper, it's time to strip. If your baby is soaking through diapers at a more rapid rate than usual or if your baby's clothes are wet every time they pee, it may be time to strip them.
You will need a few things to get started:
A workplace for your diapers in your sink or bathtub that is a convenient height (to avoid killing your back. I don't know about you, but carrying two babies and playing sports has made my lower back a lot more sensitive than it used to be). I used my dish drainer (which I realize is kind of gross) flipped upside down. Don't worry, I sanitized it afterward. You could easily have one that you use exclusively for this purpose. Then you need a scrubber of some sort. An old toothbrush is fine. I used a large scrubby thing that my husband found for me.
Finally, you need Dawn. Not the expensive smelly makes-your-hands-feel-like-you've-just-had-a-mani-Dawn, but the Original blue Dawn that you can buy at the dollar store for fifty cents. Take each diaper and wet it with warm water, and put a small amount of Dawn on it. Scrub the Dawn into the diaper and make sure to move it into the fabric at several different angles to allow the detergent to remove all the deposits. Rinse thoroughly and place the diaper in a pail. Repeat with each diaper. After you have completed this step, take your diapers to the washer and put them in for a rinse.
Then do a full cycle with a tiny amount of your regular detergent (I love Allen's Naturally) with about 1/8 cup of bleach. Hang them out to dry. Don't think about it again for 6-8 months!!